Printable Version
Pronunciation: -vi-êt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A caution, a qualification, a proviso of an understanding. 2. (Law) A legal notice requesting a postponement of a court proceeding until an interested party can be heard.

Notes: This word is famous for its participation in the expression caveat emptor "let the purchaser beware". It is a lexical orphan except for caveator, used in court only, i.e., in the second meaning above.

In Play: Here is a sentence with an example of a caveat: "Eating healthy is possible for everyone with the caveat that healthy food must be available in their locale." We may express the potential damage done by caveats like this: "Doug hedged his claim in so many caveats as to render it moot."

Word History: Today's Good Word is the 3rd person singular present subjunctive of Latin cavere "to beware, take heed", which meant "may s/he or it beware". Latin inherited cavere from PIE (s)keu-/(s)kou- "to perceive, be mindful of", source also of Sanskrit kavih "wise; seer", Latin cautio(n) "care, foresight" and cautus "careful", and Greek kudos "glory, fame". We also see evidence of it in Serbian čuti "to hear" and čuvati "save, store, look out for", and Russian čuyat' "to sense, smell". The Germanic languages used the Fickle S, as seen in scour and German schön "beautiful, good-looking". (Now let's give a thankful thought without caveats to newcomer Arnaldo Mandel for spotting the interest in today's Good Word and sharing it with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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